Breaking News in the Industry: March 13, 2018

Employee jailed in near $60K retail theft scheme

A former Walmart employee is accused of conspiring to steal nearly $60,000 in a theft scheme spanning three months. Charged is Jatmarie Merced, 36, of Bethlehem. Co-defendants previously named include: Kristopher Herrera, then 19, of, Bethlehem Township; and Kory Cherry, Jared Lugo, Gabriel Pozo and David Burgos, no addresses provided. Court records state just Burgos didn’t work for Walmart during the time of the alleged thefts. Bethlehem Township Police Department detectives on Feb. 2, 2013 began investigating a series of thefts at Walmart. A loss prevention associate reported Merced and the five others were stealing from the store from November 2012 to February 11, 2013.

Cherry in an interview with investigators reported witnessing Merced allegedly “under ring” televisions and other electronics, but create a “price check” instead of an actual sale.  The person would then walk away with the items, but Merced allegedly never took any money for the store and also conspired to later acquire some of the merchandise. Merced alone conspired to steal $7,240 worth of items, running the gamut from iPads and televisions to laptop computers and cellphones to gaming systems and DVDs, according to police. Investigators on March 6, 2013 obtained additional evidence, including files, documents and video surveillance footage. Other workers in interviews with police reported seeing Merced steal merchandise by “under ringing” and pointed her out to detectives on video surveillance footage. Police said the loss for Walmart by all six individuals in the scheme totals $57,288. [Source: LehighValleyLive]

Women spray Victoria’s Secret employee with pepper spray, steal $11K worth of bras

Folsom Police in California arrested two women after they allegedly sprayed a Victoria’s Secret employee with pepper spray and ran with several large bags filled with clothing. The incident happened just before 8 p.m. Friday. According to police, two women sprayed an employee with pepper spray while trying to escape with thousands of dollars worth of clothing. The employee was not hurt and was able to give officers a description of the suspect’s car. A nearby officer saw the suspect’s vehicle and stopped them. The officer found the stolen bras and took both Blanca Thalia Quintero, 22, and Antanae Lastar Welch, 19, into custody. Both women were charged with robbery and conspiracy. Quintero was also charged with using tear gas to commit a crime and unlawful possession of tear gas. In addition to those charges Quintero had an outstanding arrest warrant from San Mateo County for theft. During the investigation, officers found a counterfeit $100 bill on Welch. Both women were booked into the Sacramento County Jail.  [Source: ABC10 Connect]

Customer satisfaction: These are America’s best-liked retailers

Americans find shopping at the top digital retailers to be a better experience than shopping in the highest rated brick-and-mortar chains, according to a new report from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). The Internet Retail category did drop slightly, scoring an 82 on the 100-point scale after putting up an 83 last year. Department and discount chains dropped as well, to a 77 from a 78 in 2016, while specialty retail fell from an 80 to a 79. In addition, L Brands was the only company in either department and discount or specialty to equal Amazon’s 85 as the top-scoring company. “Amazon is nearly inescapable in retail right now, as the e-commerce giant makes moves into grocery stores and pharmacies, expanding its footprint into multiple retail industries,” said ACSI Managing Director David VanAmburg in a press release.

What did the survey say? (Click here to see a list of the top 20 companies). Across all retail categories, consumer satisfaction has stayed about the same as last year. The ACSI Retail Report shows that the overall retail sector scored a 78.1, down only slightly from last year’s all-time high of 78.3. Costco scored highest among all department and discount stores with an 83, the same as it scored last year. It was followed by Nordstrom with an 81, then its warehouse-club rivals BJ’s and Walmart’s Sam’s Club at 80, which Kroger’s Fred Meyer also scored. [Source: USA Today]

Police use Taser on man suspected of stealing from store

Target in Bel Air, Maryland, Saturday allegedly assaulted two police officers as he tried to flee, Bel Air Police said. Jonathan Andrew Myers, 19, is charged with resisting arrest, theft $100 to $1,500, possession of drug paraphernalia and two counts of second-degree assault on law enforcement, parole and probation, fire or EMS. Bel Air Police were called around 9 p.m. Saturday to Target for a possible theft in progress. Loss prevention staff at Target, monitoring Myers via the store’s surveillance cameras, allegedly saw Myers putting merchandise inside two backpacks, according to a news release from the Bel Air Police Department. Myers, pushing a mountain bike he had removed from display, approached the register area and after passing all points of sale, was confronted by loss prevention employees inside the store.

Myers allegedly tried flee the store, Bel Air Police said. Bel Air officers immediately responded and attempted to apprehend Myers, who allegedly began fighting with the responding officers. One officer used a departmental issued TASER to subdue Myers and stop his alleged assault on another officer. Myers stopped briefly, but allegedly continued to resist being arrested and fight with officers until additional officers arrived and were able to get him handcuffed. Myers was then taken to Upper Chesapeake Medical Center by Bel Air volunteer fire company ambulance for an eye laceration and evaluation as a result of falling during the incident. Once Myers was treated and released, he was taken to the Harford County Detention Center and was being held Monday on $3,000 bail. During the altercation, Cpl. Alex McComas, a 17-year veteran of the agency, sustained minor injuries and was also taken to Upper Chesapeake Medical Center. He was treated and released from the hospital early Sunday morning. [Source: The Baltimore Sun]

Florida man arrested after worker discovers phone recording in restroom

A Florida man was arrested Saturday afternoon after a Walmart employee discovered a recording cell phone perched atop a mirror in a restroom near the store’s merchandise pickup counter, the Clermont Police Department said. “She took the phone to the loss prevention office,” Clermont police Officer Erin Razo said. “The loss prevention associate looked into the unlocked phone in an attempt to obtain owner information, and he observed a file containing at least three photos indicative of child pornography.” Investigators said the loss prevention officer discovered photos of a man who returned to the store searching for his lost phone. Jacob Perritt, 39, of Clermont, who police said had methamphetamine on him, was arrested and taken to police headquarters, where he admitted to detectives that pornographic photos were downloaded onto the phone, Razo said. Investigators said Perritt has an active warrant out of Michigan for accosting children for immoral purpose. Perritt was booked into the Lake County Jail on three counts of sexual performance by a child, possession of methamphetamine, prohibition against giving false name or false identification by person arrested or lawfully detained and video voyeurism. Perritt is jailed without bail, police said. [Source: Dayton Daily News]

California bag check claims can proceed as class action

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted a former Eddie Bauer employee’s request for class certification as to several of her claims over bag checks under California wage payment law. The court’s holding certified as a class all current and former nonexempt retail employees who worked for the company throughout California at any time from Sept. 28, 2012, to the present. The plaintiff was employed by the company as a retail salesperson from November 2013 until March 2016. In September 2016, on her own behalf, as well as on behalf of a class of employees, she filed suit alleging that the company failed to compensate its nonexempt retail employees for time spent conducting bag checks or security inspections when clocking out for a meal break, rest break or any other departure from work. Although Eddie Bauer had a written policy in place regarding the inspections, such policy was silent as to whether the time spent conducting such inspections was considered compensable.

An Eddie Bauer representative testified that it was the company’s policy to train managers to conduct the bag checks while nonexempt employees were clocked in, thus ensuring that employees were paid for such time. However, the plaintiff testified that in practice “[e]verybody waited until after they clocked out” and then frequently had to wait for the manager to become available to conduct the inspection. The plaintiff moved for class certification on a number of her claims. Eddie Bauer objected, asserting that many of the requirements necessary to establish class certification were not present—including that there were no “questions of law and fact common to the class.” The company argued that a common-sense reading of the policy “makes clear that employees remain clocked-in while waiting for a manager and during the bag check itself”; thus, employees were not similarly affected by the policy. Rejecting the company’s “strained reading” of the policy, the court concluded that “whether Eddie Bauer’s policies required security checks to be conducted off-the-clock remains a common question capable of generating common answers.” Thus, the court ultimately concluded that class certification was appropriate. [Source: SHRM News]


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